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Fake News

“Fake News” on Facebook is Leading to Death, Say Nigerian Police

Nigerian police say that fake news shared on Facebook is causing the deaths of many innocent people in the country.

On June 23 2018, violent, incendiary images of mutilated children, burned down homes and bloodied corpses piled in mass graves began to circulate on the popular social media site. The Facebook users who published these images reported that they were Berom Christians who were murdered by Fulani Muslims in the massacre of the Gashish district of Plateau State in Nigeria.

While a massacre did occur during this time in the Gashish district, the images and videos published were not created over the weekend of June 23, and some had, in fact, been shared months earlier. The image of a mutilated baby was shared with a call for God to “wipe out the entire generation of the killers of this innocent child”—in reference to Fulani Muslims. Elsewhere, a video in which a man’s head was cut open had not even originated from Nigeria, it was recorded in Congo-Brazzaville in 2012, six years earlier, but was used as propaganda to elicit hatred and action against the Fulani community.

Some of these circulations had accrued a violent, fatal reaction among some Berom Facebook users. Speaking with the BBC, a Berom youth leader said, “As soon as we saw those images, we wanted to just strangle any Fulani man standing next to us.”

One story that particularly stands out, is that of potato seller from Jos, Ali Alhaji Muhammed.

A mob of Berom men on the prowl for Fulani Muslims and armed with knives and machetes had blocked a road that Alhaji Muhammed was traveling back home on. They murdered Alhaji Muhammad. His body, brutally mutilated, was found three days later. The potato seller was one of 11 men pulled from cars killed on the June 24, the day following the surge of misleading information circulating Facebook about the Gashish massacre. The police and military in Plateau State believe these images fuelled the violence that occurred on June 24.

Tyopev Terna Matthias, a public relations officer for the Plateau State police said, “It was the pictures, the supposed pictures that emanated from the attack [in Gashish].

“Jos South was not under attack. But because of those images they saw, the next day, roads were blocked. People died. Vehicles were burned. So many people died.”

Matthias indicated that this content is highly misleading and dangerous, adding, “Fake news on Facebook is killing people.”

This comes amid much media scrutiny on Facebook’s policy on fake news.

For the full report, click here.

Humans-have-Caused-Wildlife-Populations-to-Decline-by-60-Percent

Humans have Caused Wildlife Populations to Decline by 60 Percent

The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) have declared a state of emergency for wildlife after revealing that the world’s mammals, birds, fish and reptiles have decreased by a staggering 60 percent since 1970.

By overusing natural resources, driving climate change and polluting the planet, humanity has not only prompted a cataclysmic decline in wildlife populations, but destroyed the system upon which it depends for clean air, water and every day existence.

The report warns: “Humans are living beyond the planet’s means and wiping out life on earth in the process.”

According to the Living Planet Report 2018, only a quarter of the world’s land area remains free from the impacts of human activity, a figure that is expected to fall to just a tenth by 2050. More than 4,000 species have declined between 1970 and 2014, the most recent available data.

Between 2009 and 2014, African elephant populations in Tanzania fell by 60 percent alone, largely due to poaching. WWF has warned that current protection methods are failing and more needs to be done to protect numerous species from becoming extinct in the near future.

Mike Barrett, executive director of science and conservation at WWF said: “We are sleepwalking towards the edge of a cliff.

“If there was a 60 percent decline in the human population, that would be equivalent to emptying North America, South America, Africa, Europe, China and Oceania. That is the scale of what we have done.”

“We are the first generation to know we are destroying our planet and the last that can do anything about it,” added Tanya Steele, chief executive of the WWF. “The collapse of global wildlife populations is a warning sign that nature is dying.”

It’s not just poaching that is threatening the planet. “Exploding” levels of human consumption, over-exploitation of natural resources such as over-fishing, cutting down forests and the use of pesticides in agriculture are having dire effects on the system that humanity is dependent upon. The report highlights food, health and medicines as amenities that rely on natural resources.

“It is a classic example of where the disappearance is the result of our own consumption, because the deforestation is being driven by ever expanding agriculture producing soy, which is being exported to countries including the UK to feed pigs and chickens,” Barrett said.

Plastic pollution is also proving a significant threat. The percentage of seabirds with plastic in their stomach is estimated to have risen from five percent in 1960, to 90 percent today. Plastic can suffocate and injure marine animals and, if mistaken for food, can cause fish and turtles to suffer blockage, starvation and internal wounds.

The report added that around half of the planet’s shallow water corals have been lost in just 30 years, and that the most damaged habitats are rivers and lakes, where populations have fallen by 83 percent due to the thirst of agriculture and the large quantity of dams.

South and Central America are the worst affected regions, seeing a drop of 89 percent in vertebrate populations.

More species referenced in the report as those whose populations are in decline include black and white rhinos, polar bears, African grey parrots, hedgehogs, whale sharks, Bornean orangutans, puffins and the wandering albatross.

“If we want a world with orangutans and puffins, clean air and enough food for everyone, we need urgent action from our leaders and a new global deal for nature and people that kick starts a global programme of recovery,” said Steele.

A 2020 meeting of the UN’s Convention on Biological Diversity is expected to make new commitments for the protection of nature.

Barrett said: “We need a new global deal for nature and people and we have this narrow window of less than two years to get it.”

“This really is the last chance. We have to get it right this time.”

Further reading: 12 Years to Halt Climate Change Catastrophe, Warns UN

Eight Charities to Support on International Day of the Girl Child

Eight Charities to Support on International Day of the Girl Child

Since 2012, the United Nations has been declaring October 11 International Day of the Girl Child.

Today marks a day that aims to recognize and address the challenges that girls encounter around the world. The organization will work alongside girls to promote girl’s empowerment, their human rights, and declare that they have the ability to change the world.

This year, the theme of International Day of the Girl Child is ‘A Skilled Girlforce’, which starts a year-long effort of advocating for education and skill enhancement.

According to the UN, “Of the one billion young people—including 600 million adolescent girls—that will enter the workforce in the next decade, more than 90 percent of those living in developing countries will work in the informal sector, where low or no pay, abuse and exploitation are common.”

In the meantime, here are eight charities to support for girls and women across the globe. We don’t need a special day to honour girls and #PressforProgress.

Plan International (equality)

Plan International is active in 71 countries and strives to advance children’s rights and equality for girls. The charity puts emphasis on gender equality and empowers communities to tackle the cause of discrimination against girls.

The organisation works to overcome adversity and “support the safe and successful progression of children from birth to adulthood.’” Focus areas include: education, ending violence, youth activism, sexual health and rights, skills and work, early childhood, emergencies and providing sponsors for girls.

Camfed (education)

Camfed is an international, non-profit organisation that supports girls and women in the poorest rural communities in sub-Saharan Africa. With a big focus on education, the organisation tackles poverty and inequality by supporting girls to go to school and become leaders of change.

“Camfed’s innovative education programs in Zimbabwe, Zambia, Ghana, Tanzania and Malawi have directly supported more than 2.6 million students to attend primary and secondary school, and more than five million children have benefited from an improved learning environment”. From transportation and school fees to child marriage, the organisation works with community members to diminish the challenges that stand in the way of female education. 

Girls Not Brides (child marriage) 

Girls Not Brides brings together organisations from over 95 countries to end child marriage and give girls the choice and freedom that they deserve. 15 million girls across the globe become brides each year, and this organisation brings attention to these figures.

By raising awareness of health, education, death and violence, the organization aims to “build an understanding of what it will take to end child marriage and call for the laws, policies and programmes that will make a difference in the lives of millions of girls.” The charity provides facts and resources for you to share, and even gives you the option of using your own wedding to support girls across the world.

Young Women’s Trust (careers)

Young Women’s Trust supports young women aged 16-30 who are struggling with low or no pay. The organization provides free coaching and advice on CVs and job applications, and actively campaigns for “fair financial futures”.

By focusing on closing the gender pay gap, supporting young women in male-dominated sectors, and promoting apprenticeships for young women, the organization boosts women’s confidence and supports them in having a voice and becoming financially independent. 

CARE International (poverty)

CARE International puts women and girls in the centre of their mission to defeat poverty, achieve social justice and save lives. Currently working in 79 poor and developing countries, providing life-saving assistance during disaster and war, and helping people to rebuild their lives.

The organization believes that “equipped with the proper resources, women have the power to lift whole families and communities out of poverty”. It provides expertise in areas such as economic empowerment for women, inclusive governance, humanitarian response, and engaging with and influencing policy-makers and the private sector. 

Orchid Project (violence)

Orchid Project is a British charity that “envisions a world free from female genital cutting”. More than 200 million girls and women are living with the consequences of having their genitals—including part or all of the girl’s labia and part or all of her clitoris—removed. Physical consequences include, death, hemorrhage, tetanus, HIV, trouble urinating, menstruation problems, pelvic and abdominal pain, infection, sores, cysts, and infertility.

The charity raises awareness of how, why and where FGC happens and partners with organizations to prioritise an end to FCG. 

Free The Girls (sex trafficking)

Free The Girls is an international, non-profit organization; devoted to helping sex trafficking survivors achieve “economic freedom, restored health, social well-being, education, and opportunity for a different, hopeful future”. Through reintegration programs and economic opportunity, the organization joins survivors on the journey from horrific trauma to living safely with family.

Second-hand clothing is a thriving industry in many countries around the world so Free The Girls also organise bra donation. You can donate lingerie at your local drop off point and help survivors to earn a safe income and become an entrepreneur in their own communities.

Innovating Health International (healthcare)

Innovating Health International is a non-profit organization dedicated to treating chronic diseases and raising awareness for women’s health issues in developing countries. They aim to “increase access to treatment and education services for chronic diseases such as cancer, high blood pressure, diabetes and injuries”.

By working with local partners and building healthcare that responds to local needs, the organization supports women’s cancer care, cervical cancer prevention, chronic disease study, and the building of pathology services and national disease registries.

Further reading: Join the Fight Against Sexual Assault

Cancun Violence

Spring Break Threatened as Cancun Suffers Spike in Violent Crime

14 people were murdered in 36 hours in Mexico’s favorite party hotspot for young American spring breakers, Cancun, according to Noticaribe.

This is the highest number of homicides ever recorded in the country’s history within such a short period.

The figures surpass Cancun’s previous ‘record’ of nine killings in a day on November 25, 2004.

Cancun has recently become overrun with drug gangs, as violence in the tourist party town reaches unprecedented levels.

Mexico’s drug war has arrived on its idyllic beaches, with a growing crime wave threatening to leave the popular resort of Cancun a ghost town.

According to the Sun newspaper, more than 100 people have now been slaughtered in Cancun since the beginning of 2018, as Mexico’s cartels continue to spread fear throughout the country.

Most of the murders have remained unsolved.

Amid a thriving drug trade and widespread extortion, fear is rampant and threatens to have a knock-on effect on the country’s multi-billion dollar tourism industry.

Following increased violence in the popular party destination, the US have issued a ‘level 2’ advisory, which urges people to ‘exercise increased caution.’

SBS’s Dateline journalist Krishnan Guru-Murthy went out to Mexico to investigate the violence that is plaguing the nation.

“This is one of the most beautiful views in the world and we are the only people here,” Guru-Murthy said from Acapulco’s main beach.

Within hours, just before sunset, he found himself in the center of a serious crime scene—a man had been gunned down in the sand.

Guru-Murthy said he was shocked by the lack of police in some areas, with tourists unwittingly within yards of graphic crime scenes.

“It’s possible if the police don’t want anyone to notice. There’s minimum fuss and hardly any officers here,” he said.

He added: “We’ve been told that local politicians here have put the press under pressure not to report violence in this area, because if the tourists are scared away from here, it will be an economic disaster not only for Cancun, but for Mexico.”

Further reading: Man Arrested on Suspicion of SXSW Bomb Threat

North Korea Ballistic Missile

North Korea Tests Ballistic Missile

 North Korea tested a ballistic missile—the Hwasong-15—in the early hours of Wednesday morning, claiming that their new model has the potential to reach the United States.

The North Korean media made the announcement after Kim Jong Un launched the Hwasong-15 in North Korea’s capital, Pyongyang. Reports by the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said that the test “meets the goal of the completion of the rocket weaponry system development.” Kim Jong Un is reported to have said that North Korea had “finally realized the great historic cause of completing the state nuclear force, the cause of building rocket power.”

North Korea has repeatedly tested nuclear missiles this year, but the most recent reached higher than those launched before it. The Hwasong-15 reached 4,475 kilometers into the air in a lofted trajectory. It spent 53 minutes in the sky before landing in Japanese waters.

According to a member of the Union of Concerned Scientists, David Wright, if the missile was “flown on a standard trajectory rather than this lofted trajectory, this missile would have a range of more than 13,0000 kilometers.” He continued, “Such a missile would have more than enough range to reach Washington D.C.” However, it is assumed that the warhead attached to the ballistic missile was simply a light-weighted mock. If the missile had a legitimately-sized warhead attached to it, it would be far heavier, meaning that it may not have the capacity to reach this distance.

The ballistic missile test ignored international sanctions imposed on North Korea’s weapon’s program and has resulted in an emergency meeting at the UN. North Korean media has stated that its nuclear weapons would not “pose any threat to any country” as long as North Korea was not interfered with.

President Donald Trump was unusually and resolutely quiet on the subject. “I will only tell you that we will take care of it,” he told reporters at the White House. “It is a situation that we will handle.”

Further reading: Political Uncertainty as Army “Takes Control” of Zimbabwe

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Mugabe

Political Uncertainty as Army “Takes Control” of Zimbabwe

Zimbabwean military has taken control of the country and put president Robert Mugabe under ‘house arrest’, plunging the nation into a period of deep political turmoil.

On Wednesday 15 November, troops and armored vehicles surrounded the Zimbabwean parliament and other key buildings.

In a live statement over the national broadcaster ZBC, Maj Gen Sibusiso Moyo, a member of the army, denied the military was carrying out a coup.

Moyo reported Mugabe and his family were “safe and sound” and insisted the move was meant to ‘target criminals’ around the president who are “committing crimes”. He went on to say that the situation would “return to normalcy” one that mission would be accomplished.

President Mugabe, 93, has been in control of the south African country since it became independent from Britain in 1980. Many argue his rule has been characterized by controversy, extreme nationalism and tyranny.

His wife Grace Mugabe, who was bidding to succeed him as president, has allegedly fled the country. Her whereabouts are currently unknown.

Local media reports the Southern African Development Community (SADC) bloc held emergency talks on 16 November. South African ministers and leaders have also been in Harare, Zimbabwe’s capital, meeting with the army and the country’s remaining political parties.

It is not yet known who will take over from Mugabe, or if the president will peacefully offer his resignation and legitimize the recent upheaval and political reshuffle.

Leaders of the opposition have urged for a return to a more stable form government: Tendai Biti told the BBC it is “urgent” that the country goes back to a more democratic climate through an appropriate transition period.

Despite this momentous event, life in Zimbabwe carries on. Although the military appears to be patrolling the streets of the capital, shops and businesses continue to work and there have been no substantiated reports of unrest.

Further reading: Is ‘El Chapo’ Guzman, the World’s Most Powerful Drug Cartel Leader, Dead?